Discovery Teaching Labs - Thermal Transport of Nickel Alloy, Semiconductor
and Lanthanide Samples

Thermal Transport of Nickel Alloy, Semiconductor and Lanthanide Samples
PPMS® VersaLab®

The goal of this educational module (EM) is to guide the student through the steps for measuring the thermal and electrical properties of solids using the thermal transport option (TTO) of the VersaLab. The TTO permits the simultaneous measurement of the thermoelectric potential (usually represented by TEP or S), thermal conductivity (κ), and electrical resistivity (ρ) as a function of temperature and magnetic field. Initially the students will be guided to measure a sample of nickel, in order to get acquainted with the technique, hardware and software. This will be followed by measurements in semiconductors (undoped, n-type, and p-type), and a magnetically ordered sample (e.g. one of the heavier lanthanides). The study in semiconductors aims at exposing the students to issues in thermoelectric materials and devices. The measurements in the heavy rare-earths is intended to demonstrate how sensitive the thermal properties can be to the onset of magnetic ordering.

Several items are needed for this experiment, which include:

  • Nickel alloy reference sample provided with the VersaLab.
  • Undoped, n-type and p-type semiconductor samples with approximate dimensions: length = 15-20 mm, width = 1.0-1.5 mm, and thickness = 0.2-0.4 mm.
  • Sample of a material that orders magnetically in the 50-400 K range, e.g. a bar piece of one of the heavier lanthanides (Gd, Er)
  • Thin blade diamond wheel, wire saw, or spark cutter.
  • Soldering station.
  • Cotton swabs, kimwipes, ethanol (or acetone), nitrile (or latex) gloves.
  • Tweezers, glass slides, glue ribbon, and caliper gauge.
  • Copper leads, Ag-epoxy (e.g. H20E from Epotek), Ag-paint.
  • Stereoscopic microscope.
  • Desktop oven (temperatures ˜ 125 °C are needed to cure the Ag-epoxy).
  • The TTO puck, puck testing box, and a multimeter.
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